Talking About Race

In the 2016-2017 school year, educators, families and graduate students participated in a research group examining the goals of Anti-Bias Education. Click here to read more about this group.

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Marissa Tafura, photo from https://www.rmpjc.org/about-us?lightbox=dataItem-iyuwsnvz1

As part of their continuing conversation, Marissa Tafura from Empowering Kids met with educators from the Boulder Journey School Teacher Education Program (BJSTEP) to discuss the importance of engaging in conversations about race. Marissa focuses on equipping teachers and families with the tools they require to enter into dialogue with young children.

 

 

 

We reflected on the following questions:

 

 

How often do teachers and parents talk with children about race?

  • Marissa recommends using very descriptive colors to name race and to make it personal by referencing someone you know who identifies with that race. Be sure to model that it is okay to notice and talk about race, while recognizing that those conversations may look different in public and private spaces.

 

How can we challenge the normalization of whiteness and diversify materials offered in classrooms and homes?

  • Marissa recommends sharing why some images or narratives make you uncomfortable. For example, “I don’t like that the only brown skinned person in the book is the one opening the gate to the zoo.”

 

How do we name race as an important part of one’s identity?

  • Marissa made the comparison to how we talk about gender and accept that gender identity is important to our self concept. She encouraged us to do the same with race and not shy away from it.

 

How can we raise children who are able to identify injustices and take action?

  • Marissa recommends empowering children. She suggests that adults should include narratives that challenge the idea that people of color are always victims.

 

 

Marissa recommended the following website on teaching tolerance: http://www.tolerance.org/  She also recommended this article: http://www.wdsnyc.org/file/documents/CHILDREN-ARE-NOT-COLORBLIND.pdf

We look forward to continuing our work with Marissa and plan to schedule a meeting for Boulder Journey School parents as a next step. You can learn more about the importance of talking with children about race by visiting this blog: http://family-garden.org/talk-kids-race/

 

Here are some additional resources:

Book Lists

30 Asian & Asian-American Children’s Books

Spreadsheet of Books

10 Books That Empower Kids to Stand Up and Speak Out

Best Multicultural Books for Children

50 Indian Books Every Parent Must Read to Their Child

28 Books That Affirm Black Boys

Building a Diverse Anti-Bias Library for Young Children (multiple resources)

Children’s Books That Tackle Race & Ethnicity

Multicultural Book Lists for Children: 60+ Book Lists, including 10 Amazing Multicultural Picture Books About Helping Others, Multicultural Adoption Books for Kids,

Best World Religion Books for Kids

40 LGBTQ-Friendly Picture Books for Ages 0-5

Books Featuring Children of Color Where Race is Not the Point of the Story

Children’s Books Featuring Kids of Color Being Themselves. Because that’s enough.

Indigenous and First Nations Kids Books

Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Gifting Books to Children of Color

A Book Subscription Box Created for Black Children

Talking to Kids About Police Brutality: A Community Resource List

 

Anti-Bias Education

During the 2015-2016 school year, Boulder Journey School mentors and directors formed a research group, centered around the book, Leading Anti-Bias Early Childhood Programs: A Guide for Change (Early Childhood Education) by Louise Derman-Sparks, Debbie LeeKeenan, and John Nimmo. In the 2016-2017 school year, this group expanded to include families’ and graduate students’ voices, examining the goals of Anti-Bias Education.

John Nimmo, EdD, Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Education, in the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University, Oregon and a recipient of the Social Justice Award and the Excellence through Diversity Award at University of New Hampshire, has been working with Boulder Journey School as we engage in these dialogues.

In January, 2017, John visited Boulder and met with over 25 Boulder Journey School mentors, graduate students, and parents to discuss anti-bias education, why it is important, and special considerations when engaging in anti-bias education in a school for young children.

We reflected on how we respond when there are differing points of view in one classroom.

We wondered if we have a responsibility to model that many points of view can exist together peacefully, in the classroom and in the world.

We were curious if parents anticipate that their children may learn about perspectives that are different from their own while at school.

To further the conversations, we discussed possible responses to the following classroom scenarios:

  1. A teacher invites parents to share the holiday music that they listen to at home in order to play the same music in the classroom. A parent responds that this is a fantastic idea, as long as none of the music is religious. Is it appropriate to ban one family’s religious beliefs from the class but not another family’s support of gay marriage, knowing that these two families have quite different value systems?
  2. How do we respond when a child asks if a girl can be a boy? If a girl can marry a girl? Why some people don’t have homes? Why people have different skin colors?

We used the goals listed below as points of reference:

THE GOALS OF ANTI-BIAS EDUCATION

(From: Louise Derman-Sparks & Julie Olsen Edwards, 2010. Anti-Bias Education for Young Children & Ourselves. Washington DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. p.xiv.)

  1. Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities.
  2. Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity, accurate language for human differences and deep, caring human connections.
  3. Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.
  4. Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discrimination.

THE GOALS OF AN ANTI-BIAS EDUCATOR

(From: Louise Derman-Sparks & Julie Olsen Edwards, 2010. Anti-Bias Education for Young Children & Ourselves. Washington DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. p.21)

  1. Increase your awareness and understanding of your own social identity in its many facets and your own cultural contexts, both childhood and current.
  2. Examine what you have learned about difference, connection, and what you enjoy and fear across lines of human diversity.
  3. Identify how you have been advantaged or disadvantaged by the “isms” (e.g. racism, sexism, etc) and the stereotypes or prejudices you have absorbed about yourself and others.
  4. Explore your ideas, feelings, and experiences of social justice activism.
  5. Open up a dialogue with colleagues and families about all these goals.

We value holding a space for conversations around these questions and goals and are grateful to the multiple perspectives shared and analyzed by the voices of our mentors, graduate students, and families.